The discovery of new evidence in the manhunt for escaped prison inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat prompted new searches and armed patrols in rural Franklin County, New York, Monday.
New York State Police said they collected evidence near the community of Owls Head that suggests the convicted murderers might have hidden in a remote cabin there at some point after their daring escape through the bowels of the prison in Dannemora more than two weeks ago.
"We have law enforcement officers from around the state and around the nation here today searching for more evidence," New York State Police Maj. Charles Guess said Monday at a media briefing in Cadyville. "We cannot get into the specifics of the evidence that we've recovered while investigating this particular lead. We don't want to put information out in the public that could jeopardize our investigation or our number one objective, which is to find David Sweat and Richard Matt and put them back in prison."
Sources told NBC News that DNA linked to at least one of the escapees was found in that cabin.
Investigators urged owners of seasonal residences to call 911 right away if anything seems out of place or if there are signs of trespassing, possibly by the prisoners.
"We're also renewing our call to those who have trail cameras set up around the region, to let us know if you have captured any suspicious activity," Guess said. "No lead is too small for us to investigate."
Guess said so far, investigators have followed up on more than 2,000 leads. Some of those resulted in a weekend search of Friendship, New York, in the western part of the state, near the border with Pennsylvania. Guess said no confirmation was developed through that search that proved the killers had been there.
Vermont State Police are in New York supporting the latest effort. Necn spotted the Vermont State Police tactical unit staging at the Duane Volunteer Fire Department, near Owls Head, in case its expertise in dangerous situations like barricaded suspects or hostage-taking was needed.
In Malone, Pastor Kevin Young posted a message of support and gratitude to law enforcement outside the Malone First Wesleyan Church as the investigation, now in its third week, intensified near him.
"We want it wrapped up soon," Young said of the manhunt. "I think everyone is a little on edge, but rooting for law enforcement."
Richard Matt had been in prison following his conviction for dismembering a former boss. David Sweat shot and killed a sheriff's deputy.
Law enforcement has consistently called the duo very dangerous, and said calling 911 is the best thing to do if anyone spots Matt or Sweat. Anyone with other information is asked to call 1-800-GIVE-TIP.